By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Walking Shadow Theatre Company
Part Encyclopedia Brown mystery and part IQ test, this interactive show suggests that mystery is a sleeper genre at the Fringe. Set in an unfinished (and grossly overpriced, I might add) Uptown condominium, the show offers a chilling puzzle—and a less-than-satisfying ending. Still, you'll leave this condo with the new knowledge that the owl, not the raven, is the creepiest avian species around—and with a new fear of the real estate listings. Wed, Thu, and Friday at 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Sat 4:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m., Sun 2:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The condominiums at 1926 Pleasant St.
African Roads, American Streets
Universal Dance Destiny
Loosely based on director Edna Stevens Talton's personal story about her journey from Liberia to the United States, the work is less a narrative than a shimmering collage of dance styles: African dancing, break dancing, popping, locking, and krumping. It's all set to live drums and beatbox, and spoken word from local stars Truth Maze and Desdamona. Many of the dancers in this large multicultural cast are still teenagers but they move with worldly intensity, rubber-band flexibility, and infectious joy. Even the audience gets a chance to join the party on stage at the end of the show. Thu 5:30 p.m., Fri 4:00 p.m., Sat 8:30 p.m. Southern Theater.
Theater for the Thirsty and Front Porch Theatre
A show that is more about wanting to forget than actually forgetting, this romantic musical comedy begins by introducing us to Jack, whose tragic past is diagrammed on a dry-erase board. Naturally, Jack decides to obliterate his memory and move to the Rockwell-esque town of Christmas, OH. Unfortunately (and fortunately) for him, his past, present, and future soon catch up. A play with many characters performed by a cast of two (the talented and occasionally gleeful Vanessa and Jeremiah Gamble), Amnesiac Jack can teeter toward the maudlin zone. But then it remembers it's a comedy and returns to silly good cheer. Fri 7:00 p.m., Sat 2:30 p.m. Mixed Blood.
Players of Notorious Temerity
Looking for a big-picture show that could tour in a Mini Cooper? Exploring the intervals between the onset of desperation and the surrender to chance, playwright Dan Miller's existentialist diptych is no less eloquent for its severe economy and casual language. With nothing but the street clothes on their backs, a handful of props, and tech whiz Elliot Durko Lynch's inspired sound design and lighting, the young company's five actors tackle monumental questions just long enough to tag and re-release them into the great unknown. Fri 8:30 p.m., Sat 1:00 p.m. U of M Rarig Center Arena.
Baghdad Burning: Electronic Postcards from Iraq 2003-2006
Joint Theater Department of the College of St. Catherine and the University of St. Thomas
It's difficult to fully appreciate the awfulness of life in Baghdad while sitting in a theater thousands of miles away. But Riverbend, the pseudonym of an Iraqi woman whose blog has received international recognition, provides powerful insights about survival under occupation. "We have 9/11s on a monthly basis," she observes, before going on to imagine a reality show in which Bush supporters spend a week in Fallujah. She sees the fates of the United States and Iraq as hopelessly intertwined, and democracy as an illusion. The four women who portray Riverbend give her poignant words space to reverberate, and they do, louder than bombs. Thu 8:30 p.m., Fri 4:00 p.m., Sat 4:00 p.m. Intermedia Arts.
The Balcony Scene
In the Basement Productions
New neighbors Karen (Rachel Finch) and Alvin (Joe Swanson) strike up a conversation from their adjacent balconies, and the prospect of friendship or something more quickly becomes apparent. Complicating things are Karen's possibly psychopathic ex-boyfriend and, even more daunting, Alvin's hermetic and hysterically misanthropic existence. This 75-minute show aims for a mix of light and dark, and generally achieves it through decent performances and a lack of pretension. That said, I'd still recommend caution before you flirt with the Manson type on the fire escape next door. Thu 8:00 p.m., Sat 4:00 p.m., Sun 2:00 p.m. Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater.
Three Sticks Theatre Company
Suit-wearing bureaucrats (good-naturedly) hassle a number of folks coming into this show. That sets the stage for their surreal harassment of a young couple (I know this is spoiler territory, but the conceit falls away pretty quickly) who are really actors, and whose characters are called upon to prove their love. The ensemble cast tackles musical numbers with visual wit and endearing oddball charm. But the story-within-a-story of the two young lovers quickly turns saccharine. We're supposed to be sweetly moved by make-believe that tries to have it both ways, a gambit that doesn't work. Fri 7:00 p.m., Sat 4:00 p.m. Minneapolis Theater Garage.
Tyehimba Leadership Center
Bill Cosby's disparaging remarks about Black America act as an entry point into an examination of why high-profile African Americans might profess such critical, rather than constructive, views. Conservative talk show host Condoleeza Storm reveals the early shame and frustration that causes her to forget a history of resilience in the face of racism. The show is moving and, at times, humorous. But the inclusion of Condi's childhood abuse and a closing jab at another oft-slighted group ultimately feel out of place. That said, the show's point is well-taken—if the Cos could see it, he might return to pushing Pudding Pops instead of politics. Sat 2:30 p.m., Sun 7:00 p.m. Intermedia Arts.